Circling the Wagons at Penn State

According to the Freeh report, one of the reasons that pedophile Jerry Sandusky was allowed to roam free and prey on young boys for more than a decade was because an isolated Penn State community tended to circle the wagons when troubles arose.

Some Nittany Lions fans have responded to that accusation….by isolating themselves from national criticism and circling the wagons.

“They don’t get to tell us,” ESPN quotes a source talking about calls to take down the Joe Paterno statue. “This is a Penn State community decision.”

As of 6 p.m. on July 15th, there was a petition at to have Joe Paterno removed from the College Football Hall of Fame with seven signatures.

There were two petitions suggesting that Penn State football forfeit the victories the team racked up during the time that Sandusky was victimizing children. Those petitions had a combined 40 signatures.

And there was a grand total of 42 signatures on the four petitions asking Penn State to take down the statue of Joe Paterno that stands outside of the football stadium.

So that was 89 people who had urged Penn State to take a serious look at the culture the Freeh Report condemned after its eight-month investigation. 89 people wanting Penn State to recognize their shortcomings and act before the NCAA, Big Ten, Department of Education, etc. have their say.

Meanwhile, there were 252 fans demanding that the “Penn State community stand resolutely against any attack on our honor, pride and traditions” avoid any show of “weakness” or “lack of loyalty” and ensure that “the Joe Paterno statue remain exactly where it now stands-forever!”

Why are there so many national columnists suggesting Penn State football receive harsh punishment? Because this level of self-denial is like a balloon that needs popped.


3 thoughts on “Circling the Wagons at Penn State”

  1. While we have had our disagreements, which I would still debate you on ;-), the statue and anything with Paterno labelled on it needs to go. If not for the rationality of separating the university from the man who helped lead the cover-up, but for the logic and safety of PSU. By that, I refer to allowing the school to continue its season, for example, and the undesired ramifications of away fans arriving at the university. Imagine the vandalization, the confrontation with PSU fans over the continued protection/admiration over a man who covered-up for a pedophile. By not cancelling the season, ridding themselves of everything Paterno and addressing the need for change, the school is setting themselves up for a media circus and a barrage of confrontations from opposing fans. While we disagree on the measures to be taken, we can agree that something drastically needs to change before, throughout and after this season and the ones following.

    On another note, the idiom of “circle the wagons,” while meaning to close oneself and/or people off from society, as a means of defense. The root of the phrase traces back to the pioneer days, but pioneers “circling the wagons” for defense against Indian raids or outlaw attacks is a myth built largely by Hollywood. Attacks were rare and only a few instances have been recorded in history of wagons being circled for defense against Indians, who for the most part, were peaceful with travelling white settlers, many never actually encountering pioneers. In large, wagons were circled at night to contain herds of cattle brought by pioneers for the travel, and to protect the people from the wind and weather. Also, ever see pictures of a wagon train? Pionners disliked the train format, but it was necessary on thin stretches of roads. When they could, they would fan out in a horizontal line so to minimize dust that would be kicked up by horses. This has brought to you by a geeky historian :-P.

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